Posts Tagged 'Kirsty Williams'

Questionable Time #114


qt 114
Good morrow lemmings, or should I say bore da? We’re in Cardiff, so let’s hope Dimbleby doesn’t get swallowed up by the space/time rift in its centre! And can someone please get rid of that ugly rug on the floor of the studio? I want it burned. Thanks.

Milidammerung

Our first question is, as it seems to be every week, about the continuing trials and tribulations of Ed Miliband. Gosh, they just never end! Panellist number one is the up-and-coming young heartthrob Stephen Crabb. So far the only thing I’ve actually heard about him is the fact that he has a immaculately well-groomed beard. Every article and profile about him is required to mention his facial hair by law. In fairness, it is incredibly mesmerising. He’ll do fine, just as long as he doesn’t mime the Welsh national anthem.

Anyway, he’s pleased as punch with Ed’s performance. Keep on keepin’ on, Ed! He’s “not ready” to be Prime Minister, apparently, which raises the question – when does someone become ‘ready’ to be PM? Do you have to win a race, or an arm-wrestling contest? Is there phasing involved? The paddling of the swollen ass, with paddles?

Kirsty Williams, the superheroically boring leader of the Welsh Lib Dems (must be a lonely job) says Labour is responsible for ruining everything. I think she’s trying to be a poor man’s Leanne Wood, but we’ll get to her later. Rod Liddle replies that Labour is fine, it’s Ed who is the problem. He’s a nice guy, but basically a hopeless nerd. This whole ‘doesn’t he look weird!’ guffawing about poor Eddie is somewhat cruel, methinks. Yes, let’s all point and laugh at the nerd! Not that I would know how that feels or anything…Rod says that he voted for Andy Burnham for leader, presumably because he is much prettier and has a dreamy ~werkin’ class~ accent.

‘Cuddly’ Carwyn Jones interrupts to shake his head like a sad grandpa. It was the world that was in depression, not just the UK – the credit crunch wasn’t merely the result of Gordon Brown’s miserable face making us all cry ourselves into an economic slump. Meanwhile, taking her cues from the grumbly Welsh audience (in Welsh, even grumbles are melodic) Leanne Wood is yelling from the left. She’d quite like to hook up with Alex Salmond for a glorious new revolution. All these beautiful Welsh accents make you want to start singing and shouting florid oratory, don’t they? No? Just me? Well screw all y’all.

Moving on, our next question is on convicted rapist and general shithead Ched Evans. Leanne, who is eager to assume the role of national hero for the night, says that while she generally supports giving people fresh out of prison second chances – this guy? Gross! No way! We should be thinking of the victim instead. Sage nodding from the crowd.

Then Rod Liddle makes a complete arse of himself by sticking two fingers up to being sensible. Citing ‘political correctness’, he throws a whiny baby temper tantrum and generally looks like a dick. Yeah, taking rape seriously is pretty politically correct! Pshh, rape, it’s not a big deal. You’ll be out of prison in a jiffy, if you even get there in the first place, and back to your old job in no time! Perhaps the fact that footballers get away with drink driving and manslaughter should be taken seriously, too, Rod, not used as an excuse. But whatever, what do I know, it doesn’t matter! He only plays in the third division!

In response, Kirsty Williams screeches at Rod like a enraged bat in a lump of guano. I guess you could say she’s got Rod Rage.

Inquiryception

Next question: NHS Wales! Stephen suavely and somewhat predictably claims, while sadly not stroking his beard, that it’s gone tits-up. How dare Labour claim to be the party of the NHS. It’s not as if they created it or anything. Carwyn counters comprehensively by stating that budget cuts are down to the Tories slashing all the d0lla bill$$$. But Stephen isn’t going down without a fight – he wants an inquiry into the Welsh NHS! Where’s the inquiry, Carwyn? Carwyn punches back! Jeremy Hunt is such a…Hunt. Wait, where did this question start again?

The crowd is braying for someone’s, anyone’s, head. They want the panel to listen to the oiks. At that precise moment, Leanne descends from the heavens, places her hands on her true believers’ heads and whispers that…she cares. No…Plaid Cymru cares. With their cute little flower logo. Such caring. So listening. Wow.

Also she really is complimenting Scotland tonight. Leanne Wood/Alex Salmond OTP.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Kirsty is trying to construct a tiff with Stephen. She hates the ‘language of Westminster’ tending to diss the NHS – instead, let’s all work together in a lovely coalition! But you still all suck. Nothing personal.

Stephen won’t be stopped. “David Cameron speaks with nothing but respect and he values the people on the front line -” and then there is the most derisive laughter I have ever heard on this programme thus far. Rod is laughing the hardest. His main role in this edition has been that of ‘internet troll’. Thanks Rod. You’ve done the job.

Crustgate

As for the final two questions? The first is about sandwiches. It is so ridiculous I didn’t even bother making any notes on it. The word ‘sandwich’ has been used more in five minutes than it has in the rest of Question Time’s 35 year history. There’s also one about devolution – some of the panel, and the audience, are thoroughly sick of all these referendums, and especially the diddly dang West Lothian question. The consensus is for Wales to get some of the sweet, sweet nectar that Scotland enjoys, and Leanne will fight and fight again until she can fall into its honeyed embrace. And presumably Alex Salmond’s embrace. England can go heck itself. Mic drop, walk away.

Then the show ends and a cameraman is bewitched by a statue. #aesthetic

Time for the scores!

Crabb: 5/10

Beardy

Jones: 5/10

Smeared-y

Williams: 5/10

(At least she) Appeared-y

Wood: 7/10

Revered-y?

Liddle: 4/10

Sneered-y

The Crowd: 7/10

Weird-y (it’s the accents!)

Next time has…Andy Burnham! And the first ever UKIP MP I guess. But more importantly, Andy Burnham!! Only squealing fangirls allowed in!!!! SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #72


questionable time 72 david dimbleby kiss make up

Good morning Lemmings and let’s not tarry too long on this first paragraph because we have much to get through. Much, much, muchness. Right, let’s go…

Let’s twist again. And again. And again. And again…

Imagine you’re playing pontoon: You peek at your first two cards (in this case a pretty borderline article on the assumed sentiments of a politician’s dead father) and find that you’re in a bit of a bind as their combined scores tally up to 15. Dammit! “Oh well,” you say to yourself, “might as well go for it. Twist!”. The dealer peels another card off the deck in the form of a supremely ill-judged headline and throws it on the table for all to see. It’s a Jack and you’re bust – time to pony up and hope that your next hand’s not quite as dire… At least that’s what you’d do if you had even the slightest concept of sportsmanship/rules/general standards of human behaviour.

But you don’t play by the rules. You’re a maverick, a loose cannon who’s standing up for what you believe in and right now you believe that a five-card trick will magically negate the fact that you’ve cocked this hand right up to the point where you’re out of the game. The banker reaches forward to collect his winnings but you’re having none of it: “Twist!” you scream as the other players exchange bemused looks and an uncomfortable silence envelopes the table. A friend of yours, an ex-editor of The Daily Telegraph, leans in towards you in an effort to set you straight:

Now come along Daily Mail I think you’ve had enough to -”

I SAID TWIST!”

Not knowing what to do the banker produces another card – a Queen this time. Your current score is 36 and bemusement is turning to concern. But you’re not done, not by a long shot.

AGAIN!”

The banker lays out a King. 46 and counting.

AGAIN!”

Another King and by this point even your brother, the Mail on Sunday is looking worried.

AGAIN! TWIST!”

You get the picture.

So that was a very long way of explaining the circumstances that bought Quentin Letts into the QT studio but how did he do on a personal level? Not good. Not good at all. In fairness to him he didn’t quite end up being the screaming lunatic of the above passage – the difference being that rather than shouting everyone down he just woozily dragged them around the houses whilst calling for yet more cards – but the fact that he still insisted on playing the game just gave his performance this very surreal air. And the result? Mockery – and not just an odd titter from certain sections of the crowd but full-blown, out-and-out derision like the part where he foolishly asked the crowd if the Mail was “completely out of order?”. “Yes!” came the near-unanimous response. Still, at least he can take comfort in the fact that he had at least one ally in the audience – a Kipper with a fairly tenuous grasp of exactly how the political spectrum works.

TWIST!

Mehdi Hasan: My new favourite person in the whole world.

You will not be hearing my traditional pleas for Mehdi Hasan to lighten up today. Instead I’m going to let the man speak for himself by quoting what I consider to be probably the best QT set piece I have ever seen – a beautiful chunk of rhetoric that served as wish fulfillment for a sizable chunk of the population. Behold:

…when you talk about who hates Britain or who has an evil legacy, who do you think has an evil legacy? The man who sucked up to the Nazi’s, who made friends with Joseph Goebbels and praised Hitler in the run up to World War Two – the owner and founder of the Daily Mail Lord Rothermere – or the man who served in the Royal Navy, risked his life for his adopted homeland – Ralph Miliband? Who do you think hated Britain more? And this isn’t just about Ralph Miliband actually because it’s opened up a whole debate about the Daily Mail. You want to talk about who hates Britain… [minor chuntering from Letts]… This is a paper that in recent years said there was nothing natural about the death of the gay pop star Stephen Gately, who said that the French people should vote for Marine Le Pen and the National Front, who attacked Danny Boyle for having a mixed raced couple in the Olympic Ceremony, who called Mo Farah a ‘plastic Brit’. So let’s have the debate about who hates Britain more because it isn’t a dead Jewish refugee from Belgium who served in the Royal Navy, it’s the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail.”

Be still my beating heart.

And the – oh who cares…

So there were some party political types on last night but let’s not pretend that they weren’t completely overshadowed by the slow motion train wreck that was Mailgate. Anyway, a few choice points:

  1. I’ve finally figured out who Grant Shapps (see Fig. 1) reminds me of: He’s that kid at school – and every school has one – who thrives on goading others into wayward acts before legging it when the consequences of those acts become apparent (that’s if he hasn’t dobbed them in already). He also has a tin ear for nuance. Remember when that woman in the audience made a very eloquent point about how she’s fed up with all the ‘Hard Working People’ schtick? Well what better way to follow that up than by starting your next sentence with the phrase ‘Hard Working People’.
  2. I’ve now concluded that Yvette Cooper is the Bic Biro of politics: Dependable, functional, readily available (I don’t mean it like that…) and something you never really think about until you need one. True, she’s no Staedlter ball point (in my opinion the Rambo of Biro’s) but she’s dependable in a humdrum sort of way and there’s much to be said for that. However I can’t let her get away with quite how searingly dull she was last night. Yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the “lost three years” but can’t we just get back to the far more entertaining pursuit of Mail-baiting?
  3. Poor old Kirsty Williams looks like she could be a dab hand at this QT game if she could just get more than 20 seconds of camera time and not be quite so obsessed with the pupil premium. Better luck next time Kirsty.
eau de grant shapps

Fig. 1

Tl;dr

Shapps: 5/10

(As slippery and slap-) Dash (as ever)

Cooper: 4/10

(Gave it a mediocre) Bash

Williams: 6/10

(Made a decent) Hash (of it)

Letts: 2/10

(Sounded like he’d been on the) Lash

Hasan: 9/10

Smash(ed that ball right out of the park)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Displayed a high percentage of mous)Tache (owners)?

Well, what can I say? Two great episodes in as many weeks… Are we heading into some sort of QT Golden Age? I sincerely hope so. Anyway, that’s enough from me and should you still happen to be at a loose end you can check what happened when I cut Boris Johnson’s brain in two earlier this week.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #56


questionable time 56 david dimbleby 80's lcd game

Good morning Lemmings and let us summon our last ounce of gumption for we are nearly there: One more show after this and then QT‘s Winter Term is over. However, before we get all giddy with dreams of double-digit temperatures and gambolling lambs I’m afraid to say that The Cruellest Month (“Oh, you liked that hour of sunshine did you? How about I follow it up WITH SOME HORIZONTAL SNOW?!”) is not yet done with us and the grizzly business of last night’s episode still requires dissection. So tuck in those thermals and double up on those socks Lemmings – we’re going in.

What’s wrong with this picture?

He’s young. He’s ridiculously good-looking. He can dance on stage to the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Will Smith (see Fig. 1) without looking like a total prat yet something – something just isn’t quite right. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem as you can usually count on something being not quite right with politicians, but in the case of Umunna I find it particularly galling because at this moment in time, I’m desperately looking for someone to believe in and – on paper at least – that someone should be Chuka.

chuka umunna fresh prince francis maude

Fig. 1

So where’s he falling down? At first I though that it might be a bad case of Professional Politicianism but having poked around a bit I’m not convinced: His back story – while not exactly the Bog Standard Bloke yarn that we all seem to crave right now – is different and interesting enough to set him apart from the pack  while that residual veneer of cool puts him in a different category to your more common garden apparatchiks. No, what’s killing the feeling for me is that he still hasn’t learnt when to let go.

Take a look at the second question for example, the question that, by rights, he should have skinned the most cats on. This was the one about growth and thanks to Maude choosing to dig in rather go on the offensive, he had an open field. In QT terms this is a doozy as while you’ll always have the Previous Labour Government Flank to worry about, the weak point in the Blue Team’s lines (the We’ve Totally Stacked The Economy Gap) is so wide open that all it requires is a little umph and it’s all gravy. Yet ‘umph’ was nowhere to be found and what we actually saw was the horrifying spectacle of a politician trying to talk in a rational manner to an electorate he believed to be rational creatures: A big mistake and while I sympathise with his inclination to reason, it won’t do him much good in the long run because we’re not in the market for trifling matters such as ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’. What we want is jabbing fingers, cocks that are sure and jibs that are cut. We want blood that we can spread on the bread that you so kindly provided along with the circus.

Alas, blood we did not get and instead of charging hell-for-leather at the Tory trenches he got thrown totally off-balance by Leanne Wood’s assertion that Darling would have cut more than Thatcher. A QT-pro would have rightly seen this for what it is – an interdiction tactic to stall an offensive – and powered on regardless but instead Ummuna went into a defensive posture and fell back on technicalities. Well, that was it I’m afraid. I zoned out and what could have been a textbook rendition of a QT Blitzkrieg Done Right ended up bogged down in the Quagmire of Factuality.

So there’s a lesson to be learned here – stop thinking so much and just go for those cheap shots. Yeah, I know, it feels disingenuous and there’s little dignity in it but that’s the game you’re in. Just disengage your brain, stop thinking like an actual person and march towards the sound of gunfire. The rest will sort itself out.

I’m developing a grudging respect for Maude…

…Because he’s a wily old bugger who knows how to play the game. Now, I realise that’s a fairly ludicrous statement to make about a man who single-handedly managed to instigate a highly flammable round of panic buying  but when you look at it from a purely tactical level, he’s a steady pair of hands. In essence, Maude’s strength is that he knows when he’s in a losing fight and isn’t afraid to seek more favourable terrain when the odds are clearly stacked against him, even if that means ceding territory. Again, it’s the growth question that really brought this out and his response was one of darting eyes, a thin skirmish line of accusations and a whole lot of backing away slowly. None of that sounds particularly gallant or glorious and that’s because it wasn’t: The Tories are in a bind when it comes to the economy and no amount of chest thumping is going to change that. However, what he did achieve was to stop a tactical retreat turning into a rout and by the end of the show he felt secure enough to venture into No-Mans Land and seize a few prisoners. Considering my usual aversion to Big Vision Tories, that’s not bad going.

Leanne Wood is really rather fun…

…Fun in the same way it is to watch the playground misfit unsettle their more popular peers just by existing. In my day this was achieved via the means of West German army jackets (that’s right kids, WEST Germany… Now get off my lawn!), Clipper lighters on shoelace necklaces, lurking, and band t-shirts with swear words that showed through your school shirt. Wood, however, takes a more robust approach and spent most of the show picking fights in a wonderfully deadpan manner whilst stopping only to shoot the odd mucky look now and then. Are my horizons broadened by this wanton display of stick-in-muddery? Not really. Was it entertaining to watch? Why yes, I believe it was.

And the other two?

Props to Paphitis, he had a great show. It’s really easy for the Entrepreneur Panelist to drown themselves in a puddle of laissez-faire sermons but he kept it mostly grounded whilst applying just the right level of Couldn’t Give A Toss. As for QT noob Kirsty Williams, well her bright eyes and bushy tail were a forgivable incumbrance but she does show a certain level of resilience. A little more breaking on the Wheel of Dimbleby and she may be in with a shot.

Tl:dr

Umunna: 4/10

:-/

Maude: 6/10

:-I

Wood: 6/10

_

Paphitis: 7/10

:-)

Williams: 5/10

:-p

The Crowd: 6/10

=^_^= ?

Hmmm… Rather a lot of military history analogies worked their way into this write-up which is odd as I’ve been making a conscious effort to not spend all my time reading hefty tomes about men-of-yore killing each other. I thought I’d ease myself into a gentler world of literature with a biography of LBJ but it turns out that he’s more intense and frightening than most of the wars I’ve read about. At least I tried…

Next Week Lemmings, next week…

P.S. Next week could be interesting… Just sayin’…


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